We just got our lives back

I’ve been watching the live stream of Global Citizen all evening, coming from London, New York and Paris. Last year, this event consisted of artists who had submitted “from home”-videos, recorded from their back yard, living room or wherever. But there was no actual live event because of the pandemic.

I admired how people find solutions to everything – I thought it was sad in many ways that it had to be that way but the show had to go on.

When I turned it on today, I was met by something I had almost forgotten: CROWDS. Smiling people, singing people, people waving their hands in the air – just people as far as the eye can see. And artists on stage. It feels like the last time I experienced that was in another time and place, like it was a dream.

To be honest, it moved me, I cried a little. We’re through this shit. We are BACK TO NORMAL. It’s such an emotional thing to watch – and when Camila Cabello said, from the NYC stage, that it’s been so long since we’ve been able to gather like this, and that it’s scary for an artist to get on a stage in front of that many people – after so long – I got it.
A concert isn’t happening if it doesn’t consist of the the two most important elements: Artists and their audience.

Many tried streaming concerts in 2020. It just wasn’t the same. There was no exchange of energy, and that’s the whole point with live shows. You can’t recreate them – they must happen face-to-face.

I’m a bit nervous as well. I feel like I may have lost my ability to plan my concert-travels and most of all, I still can’t relax enough to enjoy the process, because there have been so many bumps in the road the past year and a half, that I’m almost afraid of getting too excited about anything.

“What if they close the borders again? What if new rules are made up? What if the show gets canceled? What if?”

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve felt like a zombie living in a bubble since February 2020. I have existed, but I haven’t LIVED. My whole life is about music. When the pandemic hit, I stopped living.
I didn’t take out any vacation, because… what am I supposed to do with my free time if there is no gig to travel to??

So, to see this now is… huge. Amazing. Fantastic. Unbelievable.

UK announced more simple entry rules for entry from October 4th. The US is finally opening in November. The EU has pretty much been open for months already. Denmark announced the pandemic officially over and has scrapped all Covid-19 rules. Life if back to normal. Norway did the same. Sweden is letting go of most Covid-19 restrictions, and concerts are now allowed again.

I don’t know, it’s like my brain has adjusted to this vacuum after more than a year of sitting at home staring at the wall, this “you can’t go anywhere or do anything” that I’ve told myself that maybe this is how it’s going to be from now on.

But seeing THIS today, made me smile and cry at the same time! F**k this virus and all the misery it brought.

And thank you to all the scientists and doctors who worked tirelessly to get us out of this mess, I credit this to them.

ROCK’N’ROLL IS BACK!! <3

ABBA…!

I haven’t blogged in a while, probably because there hasn’t been much to write about in this current Covid-vacuum that we’re living in.
But right now, it’s a few minutes past midnight here in Sweden, and I felt moved and inspired for the first time in ages.

ABBA announced their comeback a few hours ago, released two new songs and videos, presented the new arena that they’re building in London specifically for their avatar-show and just spoke about life and what they’re planning to do next.

To be honest, I didn’t believe that there would be an actual reunion. I thought it would be something much less sensational than what was advertised beforehand, but that they wanted to get everyone’s attention with the ABBA-name.

Frankly, even if they would announce a reunion, I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear it. Frida and Agnetha had two of the most amazing voices in the music business back in their prime. They were second to none. At their age, now, it could get embarrassing I thought. I was an idiot.

When I heard the first few lines of “I still have faith in you“, I thought it was very ABBA-esque and something from another era. But then, much to my surprise, I found myself crying. It freakin’ got me.

This is something that the world needs desperately right now. HOPE. Positivity. Love. Faith in the future. Beauty.
Modest and pompous at the same time, tasteful naivety to replace the cold and harsh cynicism we’ve grown accustomed to in social media and in politics the past few years.

ABBA brought me back to the magic of music, what it can do. Music UNITES. And it’s like they’ve been sent by higher, divine forces right in the nick of time.

And the fact that Bjorn and Benny still have that boyish attitude that anything is possible, is so inspiring.

Let’s just do it. Whatever it is. Oh, you need a special arena to be able to do these hologram shows, and there isn’t one that ticks all the boxes? Well, then let’s BUILD OUR OWN darn arena! Problem solved.

I love people who kick in doors, who think outside the box and go “how do we do this” instead of “we won’t be able to do this“.

Many memories from my childhood came back. At school dances, Abba was a given. We all danced to “Dancing Queen“.
When we drove through Europe to get to Croatia back in those days, I remember I was asked to pick out the music to play in the car. I picked “Voulez-Vous” and it played a zillion times on the way down to Split. Yet, I still love that album.

The first Christmas gift I bought for my own money was Abba’s “The Album“. I bought it for dad cause he was a big fan, but most of all I bought it because I wanted it myself. Two-in-one solution, why not.

It just feels grand. Huge. Somewhere in the stratosphere. Some people breathe music like nobody else. Abba are timeless with their unbelievable melodies.

Sure enough, it’s stuck in my head now too. It’s such a welcome break from all the darkness around us, we just need their light. Lots of it.

Welcome back, Abba!

Are we forced to steal music now?

What happened to buying music? When Google Play Music closed down, the possibility to buy and download a digital album disappeared. I loved going there buying all sorts of things. One day it would be some old eighties-one-hit-wonder like Falco and another day it would be Paul McCartney or hair-bands like Shotgun Messiah or whatever. Anything would be available for easy purchase. PayPal-bam! And bam! Within seconds it was yours forever.

I live in Sweden and I’ve realized only a few weeks ago, that if I want a new album I only have two choices if I actually want to OWN the album (not RENT it, which streaming is).

I can either go back in time and start buying CDs again (I thought we had left those behind in favor of mp3s, you know, non-physical music?) or collectors colored vinyls that I will never listen to because…well, they are COLLECTOR’s items that people usually buy because they want to brag about having them, or because they figure they might be worth something on eBay someday. And some just because it’s an addiction.

It’s even cool to buy a CASSETTE nowadays. But you can’t find a digital album for SALE anywhere unless you live in the States, apparently.

The second option is, frankly, stealing? Right? How else do you get an album that you can download and listen to anywhere, even when you don’t have a Wi-Fi connection?

It’s the second time I’m wasting my time trying to buy a downloadable album. Artists are complaining about not being paid by Spotify, yet that seems to be the only option for people to listen to their music these days? They don’t make it available to buy anymore.

When AC/DC released their latest album, I wasn’t even aware of the problem. I was sitting here one night and felt like buying the album – and listening to it right away.

Three hours later, I had browsed and Googled and tried everything to find a way to buy the damn record but to no use. It simply wasn’t available to someone who lived in my part of the world.

I tried four different Amazon sites, US, UK, Germany and Sweden. You get it “for free” (yeah, right…) with your SUBSCRIPTION which in other words means that you are renting it.

You are paying for the “privilege” of listening to it on THEIR platform, THEIR way, on THEIR terms.
And should you one day not be able to dish out that dough monthly, well – there goes the music too.

You’ve basically been paying to listen to the same album every damn month – and evenso – how long would I have to listen to that album on Amazon or Spotify before the artists actually get paid what they would have gotten if I had bought their album?

And another thing. I can’t STAND sites that think I don’t know what I like and therefore must “suggest” music that they figure I might like. One day they think I’m into Kanye or some other rap/RnB artist I’ve never heard of, or something they think is hard rock because hey – there’s a GUITAR in there? Once one of those sites suggested I should check out Kansas – because I had listened to George Harrison?!?

I’m allergic to Spotify, I’m not into paying someone else to make the rules to how I want to experience, select, and listen to my music. In other words – take your streaming sites and, pardon my French, shove it where the sun don’t shine.

I ended up getting that AC/DC album, but it may or may not have been legal, I wouldn’t know. At the end of the day, I wasn’t given the legal option I was looking for – for three sweaty, frustrating hours.

A few months ago, Paul McCartney announced the release of his new upcoming album, “McCartney III“. I bought the digital version of it right away, because the last time he released an album – “Egypt Station” – I did get it as a digital album.

Well, fellow McCartney-fans in social media started posting their pink, blue, white, yellow collector’s vinyls, the cover, the CDs… but no digital album. I had expected it to be the fastest option. I wrote to the store asking where it was.
It will probably take forever before anyone answers – thanks to Corona and Christmas. However, I noticed something when I went to his official store that I hadn’t seen when I ordered it – “US only“.

I ditched CD’s a long time ago – I thought we were over that format now. You can barely even find a decent CD-player anymore, or are we doing Walkmans too now? What’s going on?
Thank god I kept the CD-player in the car at least (I listened to my music through an FM-transmitter connected to my cellphone though….).

I’m sure it has something to do with all these ridiculous laws that have been driving us crazy the past few years. You can’t even enter a website anymore without selecting your level of “privacy” and “experience”…

I just totally missed the part that says “Thou shalt not buy music unless it’s on old formats or rented”.

Enlighten me please. What’s the deal?

Give the music back

My last concert “in the old world” was Vixen who played at the Monsters of Rock Cruise, while we were sailing back to Miami from having been at sea and in the Caribbean, enjoying life and our beloved rock’n’roll to the fullest.

Without those regular concert-journeys, my life would feel pretty meaningless.
I’m not the only one, there are thousands of us out there in the world.
Live music is our oxygen, our reason for living if you will.

The first sign of something going wrong, was when the Debbie Harry/Chris SteinIn Conversation“-event in Hamburg, Germany on the 7th of March was canceled because of Covid-19.

I didn’t get it at the time. I thought it was just an exaggeration from the media, it wouldn’t be the first time. I laughed about it and went to Hamburg anyway and met up with a friend from a record label – where we both sat across from each other, both coughing, sneezing, feverish, not thinking much of it – cause in the “old world” that was nothing but a common cold or possibly the flu. Who cared?

Shortly thereafter, the world closed down. BAM!

My best friend in Hannover called me one day, extremely upset, telling me to take this seriously and stay indoors. He had seen people dressed like the scientists in E.T, rolling people to an ambulance and it had scared the shit out of him.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Beat Sheet - Save the Cat!®

I lived in fear for months, because that’s what our media and our governments told us – this is very dangerous, don’t go out.
Don’t meet other people.

Since then, I’ve acquired enough knowledge and information to know how to handle this, and I think that the way it’s being handled – especially the way they’re killing our music – is terrifying. Only those who don’t understand the importance of music would do something like that so casually, like it’s nothing.

It’s EVERYTHING.
Mothers sing to their newborns to form a bond when they rock them to sleep. Children learn skills with the help of music, they can learn how to count, or how to cross the street safely, by singing songs that make it easier to remember those things. Music has saved many from poverty, hopelessness, possibly from living a life in crime.

For many of us, it has given us our identity, our sense of belonging. Without it, we’re lost, cause what ELSE is there out there worth living for? I still don’t know. Seven months of this vacuum has left me feeling like a numb zombie. I work from home, I visit my mother, I go back home. That’s about the extent of the life I’ve lived since March.

My “old life” was ALL about TRAVELING THE WORLD FOR CONCERTS. The reason I had a job was because something had to pay for those trips across the globe. Nothing else mattered.
I was on a constant quest for musical adventures. Bright lights, loud guitars, pumping bass, the collective ecstasy of thousands of screaming fans – where the music united us all.

We could be from different countries and cultures and speak different languages – yet the language of music made us a FAMILY and CLOSE FRIENDS for the hour or hours that our favorite artist or band was on stage charging our inner batteries so we could go on with our “other” lives.

That energy is like charging your cellphone. When you don’t charge it, it fades and locks down until you charge it again. That’s where I feel that I’m at right now.

I am forever grateful to DENMARK for being the first country to find a solution, and making it WORK. Karosserifabrikken in Helsingor, Denmark, arranged a concert with Jesper Binzer from D-A-D on the 21st of August, which was so long-awaited that I could have just cried. It was a small club with a small crowd – but you know what, there’s a charm and an exclusivity that is very appealing with that too.

Shortly thereafter, the owner graciously invited me to an by-invitation-only gig with Danish rock queen Sanne Salomonsen & Electric Guitars band, that had rehearsed for their upcoming tour at Karosserifabrikken and kicked it off with a private dress-rehearsal gig that was kick-ass.

She’s the real deal, she’s been around since as long as I can remember and she still sounds and looks great, still has that organic love for what she does – much like we in the audience have a neverending love for the experience that those on stage bring us.

It’s not “just entertainment”. It’s what we live for. Our everyday jobs are what we live of. There’s a huge difference.

And now, it’s started to move in the right direction in Denmark, concert-wise. D-A-D was supposed to play at Royal Arena in Copenhagen, but for obvious reasons, they had to cancel that…HOWEVER, they didn’t just sit down and sulk.

They announced a series of smaller concerts at the Tivoli, and I just went ahead and got a ticket for two of those. I contemplated going to maybe one more but figured two would be just enough to keep my spirits alive-and-kicking for another while. :)

Following that, is a show with Mike Tramp (ex-White Lion) at the Karosserifabrikken again – which I now see as my “hospital of the soul“. While nurses and doctors are treating Covid-19, these clubs are treating our bruised SOULS. We need both.

But I see little beams of light in Sweden as well. The movie theater Spegeln in Malmo, announced a viewing of the Phil Lynott-documentary, which is as close as we will get to anything music-related in Sweden, so I got a ticket for that. Should be fine, the salon takes 167 people but only allows 50 for that which is safe enough.

And our local rock club, KulturBolaget – KB, which is more than just a club, it’s an INSTITUTION, has tried to survive by streaming live gigs but now they’ve introduced “lounge-concerts”. Seated by a table, and only using a fraction of the premises, but nevertheless, you’ve got to work with what you’ve got. It’s the only way forward and it brought a big smile to my face and such relief cause I was worried that they wouldn’t make it through this.

They’re still hanging in there, and although none of the acts that they’ve announced is “my cup of tea”, I’m thinking maybe I should go anyway just to support the cause. Or else there won’t be any other concerts there ever. This is critical, it’s not the time to be picky – just freaking to to everything, and spend, spend spend for dear life!

Otherwise we’ll all be stuck in our homes for the rest of our lives, “saving our bucks” – for what?

Music has been such a strong force in so many ways, we tried to stop hunger with Live Aid back in the mid-eighties, The Beatles refused to play for a segregated audience forcing the promoters to change the rules which politics couldn’t or wouldn’t have done as quickly, the glam- and disco-era helped the gay community in a way that wouldn’t have been possible any other way, we’ve been there to change the world since rock’n’roll was born. It’s time to help ourselves now, go buy that ticket as if your life depended on it!

Cause maybe it does.

Metoo in the rock biz – you had to be tougher than the predators

I just read an article about a booking agent who’s been exposed for sexual harassment. The whole world seems to be in a rage because of guys like that.
There used to be a time when nobody would even react to that kind of behavior. A time when that was even considered normal.

When I was thrown into the crazy world of rock’n’roll in the mid- and late eighties, it was a completely different game.

Tour managers and crew guys would pick out girls in the crowd at shows and slap backstage passes on them – because the band would have their fun with them later. The girls thought of that as a sign of approval, not harassment. It was something to brag about. There was no shortage of girls who would line up for that.

The backstage area when bands like Guns n’Roses and Skid Row were on tour, looked like a Kelly Bundy-lookalike contest. Every single one of them wanted to be the Chosen One.

Or at least one of the Chosen Twenty if it was Kiss

It was such a big part of the scene, nobody even thought of it as being weird in any way.

The videos back in those days always featured tits and ass-girls, trying very hard to be remembered as sex kittens. Metoo? Huh, what the fukh was that??

Then there were girls like me

I loved EVERYTHING that had to do with the music biz. The only thing I was NOT interested in though, was being a Kelly Bundy-type of gal. I enjoyed dressing like it occasionally, but it was just for “window-shopping”, I wasn’t for sale. I went home alone.

One thing I KNEW after having hung out with the guys in my first band, was that if you slept around (and especially with musicians), you would be branded forever. I remember a female reporter that had given a famous musician a blowjob. After that, the ONLY thing people talked about, was THAT. She was never taken seriously as a reporter again.

If you wanted to be taken seriously, you simply couldn’t afford one single wrong step. Pants stayed ON. 

But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t get in many situations that never seemed particularly weird to me, because it was such a normal part of the scene at the time.

One guy, who worked for a super-duper-superstar rock legend (no names will be mentioned here) seemed genuinely nice and had tons of interesting stories to tell about his life working for said star, and also on his own.
He was funny, down to earth, and fascinating. We were a handful of people who had stayed in the hotel bar until 3 or 4 AM and I was so tired but couldn’t drive back to where I was staying cause I had been drinking a bit. So he offered me a bed for the night. In his room of course.
I said I wasn’t that kind of girl.
He said he wasn’t looking for “that kind of girl”. It was just an offer so I could get a few hours of sleep. “There’s an empty bed in my room, you can have that one“.

I went with him to the room, only to find out that the “empty bed” was the other half of his King size bed, and he just shoved all the stuff he had put there, on the floor and offered me a t-shirt to sleep in.

I politely declined the t-shirt and kept my own clothes on and even just slept on top of the blankets and duvets.

And you guessed it. The minute the lights went out, his hands “accidentally” ended up on my side of that bed and eventually where they definitely had no business being.
I jumped out of the bed, realizing that I might have been a bit naive – and left to sleep on a sofa in the lobby. The guy was offended. Apparently, I hadn’t played his game the way he had wanted me to, and he threatened to “punish” me by telling his boss not to talk to me or sign anything.
However, Mr Superstar was very kind and in the end, he even made the guy treat ME like a princess! :D Sweet revenge.

All I had to do was say no. And stick to that no.

There were more situations like that. The tour manager of one of the most famous heavy metal bands on the planet, liked me for whatever reason and showered me with backstage passes.

First, he brought me a guest-pass (I hadn’t even asked for one), then he got me a VIP-laminate and escorted me backstage to meet the band. I was very tired and wasn’t that much of a fan personally, so once the guys in the band started coming in, I didn’t feel like standing in that crowd of fans, so the guy went and led the guys in the band to me, one by one, in some sort of attempt to impress me. It was a bit bizarre.

When they left, he asked what my plans were. I said I was going to drive back home. I had a 3-hour drive ahead. He placed a room key in my hand, told me which hotel they were staying at, and his room number. “You can freshen up there, take a shower before you leave“, he said without waiting for a reply and disappeared.

The idea of going to his room and waiting for him there was ridiculous. That simply was not in MY plans, but here I was – with a room key.

I went to the hotel and left it at the reception desk, telling them which room it was – and left the premises to drive back home.

There were plenty of situations like that.
I had finished an interview with the guitarist and the drummer of another famous band, and during that conversation, the guitarist and I realized that we had a mutual friend.

He hadn’t heard from him for so long and didn’t have his number anymore, but I did. So, I went with him to his room, dialed the number, gave him the handset, and left the room.
He was an absolute class act and always has been. No weirdness, just a really cool dude. He said he would put me on the guestlist for the show. He even called and left a message to confirm.

Well… Once I got there, I had to find the tour manager, who, didn’t have the list at hand, but just assumed that I was the usual…”type”… He said he could help me of course, but stopped for a few seconds, looked me up and down and said: “But what’s in it for me?
I was pissed. “NOTHING dude“.

He left, thinking that he had punished me by displaying his power.
His long face, when he saw me backstage anyway, was priceless. The guitarist had spotted me and brought me inside. And there was nothing “in it” for anyone, other than good conversation and a few laughs.

And then there was Gene Simmons who I will name because he’s just funny and has the reputation he has, who asked if I wanted to be the mother of his children. I can’t even get mad at that. I took it as a joke and think it was intended as that in some shape or form. :)

The only time I got really furious over actual sexual harassment, was in the crowd at Sweden Rock Festival many, many years ago.

I was watching one of my favorite bands in the world, when some drunk asshole grabbed my tits from behind and refused to let go. I hit him with my elbows, stepped on his toes, fought like a wild cat to get his fucking hands off of me. What the actual f**k?! And in the middle of this struggle, my hero stops the show for a few seconds to point at me and the drunk idiot behind me, and go: “I don’t blame you man, she’s got great tits!” Oh, you did NOT just say that?! Seriously??

Instead of telling that guy to stop, he encouraged it and got the crowd roaring. I refused to go to the band’s shows for a good while after that. At one point, I had to go cause his band was headlining and I knew the opening act, so my boyfriend at the time and I, had been invited to the gig.

Mr superstar-frontman spotted me in the crowd and started interacting in his usual charming way. I was still mad though, who the f**k ARE you, dude? I got over it after a few years, but that was just uncool.

There was the pig who already had a bad reputation, who tried to lure me up to his room by asking me to “help him look for a guitar pick”. He had to go look for himself, I wasn’t going anywhere with him.

Or wives of stars who thought that I had screwed their husbands when I was probably the ONLY person who HADN’T

Back in those days, you learned that you simply couldn’t apply the rules of the regular world to the world of rock’n’roll.

I hated being mistaken for a groupie, cause I worked hard to make a name for myself as a reporter, not as the chick-of-the-day.
Some gossip-stories that I heard about myself were creative and hilarious, whoever made them up didn’t know the first thing about me and who I really was and still am.

There was no metoo back then. You were on your own. And in some ways, I think we have to take matters in our own hands and be warrior queens to make the changes that need to be made.